Germany - Nutrition

Nutrition is a growing priority for Germany

Tackling malnutrition, especially of pregnant women, mothers, and young children, is one of Germany’s key development priorities within the country’s larger focus on agricultural and rural development for food and nutrition security.

Nutrition is an explicit focus of the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and the BMZ’s many nutrition initiatives fall under the umbrella of the ‘Special Initiative, ONE WORLD - No Hunger’, launched in 2014 to advance food and nutrition security and rural development. It will receive €615million (US$701 million) in funding in 2022. According to the BMZ’s latest strategy, BMZ 2030, (launched in May 2020), the ‘ONE WORLD – No Hunger’ umbrella is listed as one of the agency’s five key thematic priorities, which are intended to remain consistent between legislative periods. Under this ‘Special Initiative’, the BMZ focuses on food security, rural development, and agriculture.

According to the 2021-2025 coalition treaty, the German government will make food security and access to clean drinking water through sustainable agroecological approaches, as well as knowledge and technology transfer, especially in the field of smallholder agriculture, priorities of German development policy.

Germany was the driving force behind the G7’s 2015 ‘Broad Food Security and Nutrition Development Approach’, another manifestation of the growing importance of nutrition within Germany’s development cooperation. In December 2021, Germany committed to spending €580 million (US$661 million) on nutrition for the 2022 – 2025 period at the Nutrition for Growth Summit. During Germany’s 2022 G7 presidency, German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Svenja Schulze initiated the Alliance for Global Food Security (GAFS) that can respond in an agile and coordinated way to the hunger crisis triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The alliance was launched on May 19, 2022, during the G7 Development Ministers’ meeting.

According to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) data, Germany spent US$124 million on nutrition-specific projects in 2020 (see box); these are projects that are reported to the OECD Creditor’s Reporting System database under the ‘basic nutrition’ purpose code. Germany channels most of its nutrition-specific funding to maternal and child health.

Nutrition-specific: Interventions that address immediate causes of undernutrition and have the improvement of nutrition (i.e., support for exclusive breastfeeding, supplementary feeding, etc.) as their primary objective.

Nutrition-sensitive: Interventions that address underlying causes of malnutrition and that take into account cross-sector actions and impacts (i.e., improving access to diverse foods).

It is more difficult to quantify donor support for nutrition-sensitive interventions due to their multi-sectoral nature (see box); however, according to the 2021 ‘Global Nutrition Report’, which relies on figures reported by donors themselves, Germany spent US$143 million on nutrition-sensitive interventions in 2019 (the latest year for which data is available), down from US$160 million in 2018. Germany’s nutrition-sensitive support focuses on improving the availability of and access to nutritious food and fostering healthy diets. Additional priorities related to nutrition include ensuring food security in crisis contexts and promoting sustainable fishery and aquaculture.  Based on the BMZ’s ongoing commitment to food and nutrition security, and given the threat that the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine pose to food security, Germany’s investment in nutrition-sensitive interventions is likely to remain stable.

BMZ shapes Germany’s policy on nutrition

The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) shapes Germany’s policy on nutrition. It applies a multisectoral approach, combining nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions. The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) represents Germany at the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and hosts the annual international conferences, ‘Policies against Hunger’ and ‘Global Forum for Food and Agriculture’.